True brand connection comes not just from attention catching design but also the memories and feelings we experience with them.

While working with The Mockingbird Foundation, a Phish-based non profit supporting youth music programs, we were invited to experience a show for ourselves. I had never been a huge Phish fan but was really interested in the power of a band to influence people to the point that they would devote their lives to follow them around the country.

I realized that like many aspiring brands the affinity they had built was through community and experience. Their shows offer a judgment free zone for personal expression which is rare in our society. I’ve never seen so many people in one place interpretively “dancing” by themselves or with others to one 40 minute song while dressed like psychedelic shamans as if no one was watching. It’s unique experiences like this that become ingrained in our minds creating memories that become synonymous with the brand that helped provide them.

The happiness found in these experiences is something people then want to hold onto and identify with.

The value of the memories gained reach beyond the monetary. Purchasing tee shirts, bumper stickers, and other merch to identify as part of the tribe help fans hold on to those memories while purchasing music and listening to recordings of the live show (which are downloadable post show) allow them to relive the experience long after.

It’s this cycle of connection, experience, and memory that every brand strives for when trying to create affinity. It’s through this cycle that a brand can turn an audience member into an a life long fan.